STL Science Center

STL Science Center

16 October 2012

Examining The Literature

Dr Coria and Dr. Currie, borrowed from ROMblog
Coria and Currie's paper announcing and describing Mapusaurus is online on a French website as of this writing. Whether or not that will stay up there I cannot tell, and almost no one else could tell us either. The site in question is actually the home of the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris. It's up there for now anyhow, which is the important part. Right in the abstract itself the authors name one of the diagnostic characteristics of Mapusaurus as the possession of a "deep, short and narrow skull" as I mentioned in the comparison of illustrations on Saturday. That's not to say "I told you so" as much as it is to say that there was a very precise reason that the illustrators that used that description depicted it in their Mapusaurs. The introduction of the paper has a funneled format starting nice and broad about the fauna of Patagonia and eventually narrowing its focus to these new finds that are about to be described under the new name Mapusaurus. It leads very nicely into the systematics discussion and then the description and diagnosis of the constituent skeletal elements of the holotype fossil. Additionally, Coria and Currie have made a nice list of fossils which they used as paratypes, which makes it plain to see that there is definitely ample material off of which to back up their descriptions and diagnosis of the new genus and species. The description itself of the holotype fossil is exhaustive and associated skeletal elements are additionally discussed in the same exhaustive manner allowing for a very detailed initial picture of a new animal, which is both critical and fantastic in paleontology. Having a nearly complete picture of the skeletal make-up of the animal allows for quite a bit of extensive study into the make-up of the corporeal animal later on, which will enhance our understanding of how Mapusaurus hunted, walked, stood, sat, saw, and on and on. The end of the paper hosts the data matrix and a great deal of information on the fossils used in the description themselves, but I have not delved too deeply in my "formal education" to really root out any issues in the data matrix or interpret it at the highest level, so I will leave that to others rather than muck it up and say yea or nay to their analysis, but it is there for the better trained eye.

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